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Philippines letting children out of their homes for first time in over a year

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The Philippines is allowing children out of their homes for the first time in over a year. As the country grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic, it mandated that children 5 and older stay indoors. Now, those kids can return to parks, hiking trails, outdoor tourist sites and outdoor dining establishments, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a news release.

Children can also participate in non-contact sports, according to the press release. While kids are now free from the confines of their homes, they must be supervised by adults and follow minimum public health standards, such as wearing of face masks and social distancing.

The Philippines has reported nearly 1.5 million COVID-19 cases and 25,720 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins, and officials instated what they called a general community quarantine, a temporary measure that limited movement and transportation, regulated industries and increased the presence of uniformed personnel to enforce community quarantine protocols.

While some areas are still under that quarantine, several communities were allowed to move to a modified quarantine in July, according to a news release, in a transition between between general quarantine and the new normal.

While kids are now allowed outdoors, indoor-outdoor spaces like malls are not included in the allowed outdoor areas for children, Roque said in his statement. 

The local governments may increase the age range of children, depending on the COVID-19 situation in their area. 

Roque also announced that special commercial flights were authorized to bring home home stranded Filipinos from Oman, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other countries with travel restrictions.

Rules for fully vaccinated individuals were also shared in the statement. Senior citizens can move around their area, so long as they present their COVID-19 vaccine card.

All local governments retain discretion to require COVID-19 tests for travelers. People who travel between areas must show a vaccine card or certificate of quarantine completion with their vaccine status.

About 3,089,976 Filipinos were fully vaccinated, with a total of a total of 12,489,777 COVID-19 vaccines administered as of the July 7, Roque said.

Roque also announced that two batches of AstraZeneca vaccine deliveries are expected this week. The Philippines is currently vaccinating people with China's Sinovac, which can be given to clinically healthy individuals 18 years old and older, as well as Russia's Gamaleya Sputnik V, and those vaccines developed by AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson's Janssen, and India biotech firm Bharat BioTech, which can also be given to those 18 years old and above.

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